Sat, Jul 06, 2013 - Page 20 News List

FORMULA 1: Vettel, Hamilton shine in practice, tires not an issue

Reuters, NUERBURGRING, Germany

There was no sign of the tire blowouts which marred last weekend’s British Grand Prix in yesterday’s two practice sessions in Germany, with Lewis Hamilton and local hero Sebastian Vettel leading the way.

Hamilton, who won at the Nuerburgring two years ago with McLaren, topped the timesheets in the first session ahead of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, while championship leader Vettel was only eighth fastest.

However, the German triple world champion, who has never won a Formula One race on home asphalt or in July, sped around the track with the day’s top time of 1 minute, 30.416 seconds in the afternoon session.

Rosberg was second-fastest again with a 1:30.651 as Mercedes were roared on by small pockets of home fans sprinkled among the half-empty stands. Hamilton was only eighth fastest.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber, preparing for his final German Grand Prix before he quits for endurance racing at the end of the season, was third-quickest in both practice runs at the circuit where he took his first Formula One victory in 2009.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association announced on Thursday that they would withdraw from tomorrow’s race if the multiple tire blowouts seen at Silverstone occur again, but both practice sessions were free of incident.

After the intervention of the governing FIA, Pirelli has brought upgraded rear tires to the Nuerburgring with an inner belt made of the synthetic fiber Kevlar, rather than steel.

Practice in Germany began under gloomy skies, which mirrored the mood of Spaniard Fernando Alonso after he ground to a halt just off the track in his first practice lap. Ferrari said on Twitter that it was an electrical problem and the championship contender only managed one more lap before being recalled to the pits for further checks.

Alonso, 21 points behind Vettel after eight of 19 races, was able to take to the track normally second time around and was sixth-quickest as he targets a first front row on the grid since the German Grand Prix at alternate host Hockenheim last year.

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